Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Interview with Roger Stoneburner

When new readers come to visit this site, they will wonder why it was created. Then they will read the following interview with Roger Stoneburner. A man who is involved in all facets of production and who burns the passion we all need to pursue this industry.

FS: What are your beginnings to getting started in the film industry?

RS: Believe it or not, I fell into this business by accident. I was living in Lake Tahoe and operating a bungee company. I was in Los Angeles visiting some friends, one of which was the first AD on Melrose Place. I have a shaved head and she asked if I wanted to come play a thug. I said sure and while I was there I witnessed a stunt fight. I think this was around 2001, bungee was dying out. I saw a stunt fight and found my next calling, stunt work. She did what she could to talk me out of it but I went for it anyway. I have been a working stunt professional since then. Because stunt work is really, mostly part-time work I invested some residuals in camera gear and an edit bay and set out to shoot a documentary on the stunt business. That doc turned into a pitch and I took it to E! and Spike and garnered interest but not enough to make it happen. I then hooked up with an award winning Irish Actor, Andrew Connolly. He is a fantastic writer as well as actor. He wrote, I shot and edited. We formed a group called peeledZERO, basically, a place where we could post our work online, mostly short films. From there I got more into writing and have written a few screenplays which I hope to be pitching soon in the not to distant future.

FS: You seem to have your hand in many facets of production from producing to shooting to editing. Please tell us about all the roles you have played in your productions and where you ideally would like to end up.

RS: I mostly do stunt work http://www.stunter.com/ (it pays the bills), then camera work and editing. My love is cinematography and photography (after stunts). I would love to end up writing and directing my own projects. Now that the tools are so easily accessible, camera and laptop, it should be pretty easy to do. Of course, getting big name actors involved would be nice. I think that is where my stunt background comes in handy. When I have a script that is in solid shape, ready or near ready for the spec market, I can approach the stunt double for the actor I want and ask him to give the script to 'his' actor!

FS: As the days go on, what is it that motivates you?

RS: The dream of reaching my current goal of writing a solid screenplay and generating some interest from an actor, agent or whoever. Then being able to direct it.

FS: Please tell us about your company and your series of short films, one titled "Giant Eagles, Monkeys and Pygmies" won Best Short Film at the Flickering Image Film Festival. Were you expecting that kind of success?

RS: Well, peeledZERO is not really a company. It's more of a co-op including myself and andrew and all our acting and crew friends. We did a series of shorts on two hitmen, the Fun Loving Criminals. Luckily, our first episode won a festival. We were very excited because just getting into film festivals is next to impossible. The competition is fierce and big. Most festivals favor entries from past winners, friends or anything with name actors, no matter how awful. We felt great about that short, it had a solid buildup, middle and end in a very short amount of time, two and a half minutes roughly. We expected nothing so getting in was frosting on the cake and winning was the cherry. I think one of the biggest mistakes for filmmakers trying to compete in a short film competition is that the shorts are too long. I think under five minutes is the best route, a short means just that, short. I've watched probably close to one hundred short films and 98% of them were too long. The main components you need is a great story and great actors to show your great story. Then worry about the camera work and editing. The last two can suffer a bit if you have the first two. I think most short films suffer because they take too long telling a story that no one cares about.

FS: What projects are you working on now and what are you doing to take your career to the next level?

RS: I'm just finishing up playing a skinhead on a film called 'The Third Nail." After that I am shooting a music video for a friend on a sound stage. In June I am shooting a documentary short on a friend who is going to do the first cliff bungee jump. We are pitching a tv pilot that Andrew wrote and I am pitching a feature script that I wrote. It's about a daredevil trying to break into the stunt industry. My main focus is getting that script tight as possible, making parts that real actors will be interested in playing. Then I have a big agent waiting in the wings to read my masterpiece. If no one likes that script I will write one based around a million dollar budget and use my connections to get that made. So I do have back up plans. Nothing happens overnight in this town. You have to put it in low gear, like the tortoise and the hare. Be the tortoise, have a backup, keep chugging away and never give up. Eventually, something is going to hit.

FS: At this stage in your career, is there anything you would love to be able to go back and change?

RS: I wish that I had moved directly to LA instead of being a ski bum for 12 years. Then I would have another 12 years of stunt work under my belt and would be second unit directing now. Of course this is not possible so I am making the best of what I have.


No comments: